Nothing is more annoying than getting home from an event and realizing that most of your photos have turned out blurry. There are 4 major causes of blurry photos in digital cameras and unless you know what to look for, it's hard to tell what is causing the problem. Read on to learn each of these causes, and how to fix it.
Video - Causes of Blurry Images
Watch a video explaining the top 4 causes of blurry photos
The four main causes of blurry photos are:
- Out Of Focus
- The subject moves while the shutter is open
- The camera moves while the shutter is open
- Depth Of Field is too shallow
Let's first look at how you can tell each of these apart. Then, once you know what causes each, I'll show you how to fix them.
Out Of Focus
An image that is out of focus will appear blurry. These days with Auto Focus, it's unlikely that the whole image will be out of focus. More often than not, you'll see one part of the image crisp and clear, but others (including your subject) are out of focus.
In the example photo here, the top left part of the image is in focus, but our subject and the rest of the photo is blurry.
Now, look at the in-focus parts of the image. Check that they are further away from, or closer to, your blurry subject. This is the telltale sign of a focus problem. What has happened is the camera has set focus on the wrong object.
The subject moves while the shutter is open
When there is not much light around - for instance at night, or indoors - the camera compensates by opening the shutter for a longer period that normal. And while the shutter is open, your subject moves!
You can tell this cause by looking at your subject, If some parts of the subject are crisp while others are blurry then the subject has moved while the camera's shutter was open.
Or alternatively, the subject was moving too fast and it is blurry while the area around it (that was not moving) is crisp. For example, a racecar on a racing track.
In this example image, the boy's body is crisp as is the chair, but because he was moving his head and hands (clapping) while the photo was being taken, they are are blurry.
The camera moves while the shutter is open
This is another common problem and will cause the whole image to be blurry.
If your photo was taken at night, or indoors and the whole image is blurry, then the camera moved while the shutter was open.
Like the previous cause, the camera will leave the shutter open for longer when there is not much light around. When the shutter is open for longer, tiny movements of the camera can cause the whole photo to become blurry. Even small movements like releasing your finger from the shutter button, or your breathing can cause it.
For instance, in the example image here the boy is slightly blurry. Because the blur is uniform, it is the camera that moved while the shot was being taken, not the boy. It's hard to see on the small main image, but if we zoom into the boy's ear, you can see it is quite blurry and not crisp and clear.
There are two ways to solve the 'camera moving' problem. The first is to increase the shutter speed as explained above, The second is to hold your camera steady while you take the shot. (more details)
Depth Of Field Too Shallow
Depth Of Field is the name given to that great effect of cameras where your subject is in focus but the background is out of focus. It makes the subject stand out because that's the only thing you can see clearly.
Using the preset scene modes of your camera (or the Aperture setting), you can change how much of the image is in focus, and how much is out of focus. For instance for landscape shots, you want the whole shot in focus.
If the Depth Of Field is too shallow, not all of your subjects will be in focus. For example, in the image above, one of the swing handles is in focus while the one just behind (and also the background) is out of focus.
As you can see, there are lots of causes of blurry images. The great news is that each cause is easily identified and has a solution.
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